Johnny with the Gentle Hands
Wini Brown Johnny with the Gentle Hands 45 (Jaro International, 1959)
Another short entry here. Wini Brown was a singer who bridged the gap between R&B and jazz. Her recording debut was with National Records in 1949. After that she record for a variety labels, toured with The Ravens and other vocal groups, and fronted the bands of Earl Bostic, Cootie Williams, and Lionel Hampton. Though she had a strong, rich voice she never gained stardom outside of the African American community, and even then her star was small. Perhaps that is the result of her straddling the R&B and jazz genres.
Here she does a great murder song done to the tune of Little Willie John's Fever.
You Don't Love Me No More
Raful Neal You Don't Love Me No More 45 (Whit, 1965)
Like many a bluesman, Raful Neal made a couple funky record and here is one of them. The basic structure is blues, but then you have a nice funky beat and those JB inspired horns. Neal's harp solo adds an element that you don't get on straight up funk songs. I am feeling a bit under the weather and don't have too much to say. So I will leave you with this nice weekend jam.
Four Coachmen Swamp Legend 45 (Stellar, 1962)
Here is a nice piece of kitsch and as close as you are gonna get to a Halloween song this year. "Swamp Legend" isn't a rare record - you can pick it up for $5 pretty easy. But it as been forgotten. Too bad, it has a good talk over, some nice group vocals, and great ethereal background vocals. Don't know anything about the Four Coachmen and right now I've got too many things going to do some deep research on this one.
I Love How You Love Me
The Paris Sisters I Love How You Love Me 45 (Gregmark, 1961)
When I am out digging for record often I am really digging. Not in dirt, but through boxes of records. Sure I flip through record bins, but the good stuff comes out of dusty boxes. When I am digging, in an hour's time thousands of records can pass through my hands and I look at each one of them. Like anyone who has spent a good portion of their life record hunting, I have developed a shorthand that makes it so that I can fly through records. What is that shorthand? Ha! Do you ask the opposing catcher to fill you in on his signs? While I won't give you the particulars, I will say that I look for certain labels, producers, songwriters, etc. Not only for the good, but the bad.
Take Motown. I will pick up very early Motown singles, ones with the flat, blue, map label or earlier. If you've seen enough Motown records you know what a pre-1966 label looks like. And of the pre-1966 there are just a few I am looking for, so plenty get tossed aside. When the labels get glossy, I know that I probably have the record or have heard it a zillion times and will hear it a zillion more times before I die. When the label changes from the classic map label to the yellow & brown, heard it or have it. The label art that followed is on records not worth sniffing at. So right there I just eliminated 99% of the Motown 45s I come upon. I came up with my Motown uhhh strategy by reading some books on Motown, Motown artists, Detroit soul, and R&B, as well as listening to and looking at a lot of Motown records.
Now take the template above and adapt it for different labels, genres, artists, producers, etc. and you come up with a whole bunch of filters that make plowing through records go much faster. Now, my filters aren't so restrictive that I toss records I know nothing about or have no tips on or nothing to go by. Nah, that is how I find some of the best records. It is also how I educate myself about different labels. I'll throw another bone to you, though if you are interested in this blog than it is a bone you probably chewed already. That bone is White Whale Records. White Whale was a good Southern California 60s pop label that started off putting out vocal surf stuff. They hit big with the Turtles and that pretty much set the label's style, well written tight pop songs with good but not slick production and not overly orchestrated. My favorite White Whale band is the Clique, who made some killer singles. When the label strayed from the formula, most of the time the product suffered. I was never a big Turtles fan so I didn't know about White Whale til I started picking up 45s and found that if I concentrated on a certain time period (told by the style of the label) the odds were good I'd find something listenable.
So what about The Paris Sisters. They were three ladies from Fresno, California who started off as Andrew Sisters clones and did non-rock pop in the mid to late 50s. There career is pretty much irrelevant until they met Phil Spector and he decided to pattern them on the Teddy Bears, his vocal trio which he skyrocketed to fame. Spector produced two singles for them on Gregmark, both of which were hits. Then Spector dropped them and they went to Reprise and their career slowly died.
I would know nothing about The Paris Sisters if I did not know that Phil Spector produced some records for Gregmark, which I know because I've read a lot on Spector and I know of Phil Spector because...well, he's Phil Spector! So when I am digging through the box of records I was digging through the day I found this record, I saw the Gregmark label, looked down at the bottom and say "Supervised & Arr. by Phil Spector", and I put it in the "To Buy" pile. If it was any other Paris Sisters record I would have passed it up.
My chances of finding this particular Paris Sisters record wasn't high, but it wasn't like I was looking at a rarity once I held it in my hands. "I Love How You Love Me" hit number five on the Billboard charts, so plenty were made. If I was a bit older I might have heard it before I found the record. If my parents were a bit younger, I might have got a listen when I ravaged their record collection. I am sure that at one point the record was quite common. Years pass, records get thrown away, songs get forgotten. Rediscovering this stuff is part of the pleasure of digging.
Now That You're Down
The Impacts Now that You're Down 45 (Associated Artists, 1966?)
Argh! Here is a great garage pop song with some cool falsetto backing vocals and dammit if I can find anything on this. That I am not getting anywhere researching this isn't frustrating. What bugs me is that there are all these little hints that dead end. The first thing is the name of the band, The Impacts. Now I am sure that there were a hundred bands called The Impacts, the most famous being the great Merrell Frankhauser's great instrumental responsible for the classic surf tune "Wipe Out." Are these Impacts the same band? Since this is a vocal group I don't think so. None of the people the songs here are credited to were in surf version of The Impacts, though how many of their own songs the surfies wrote I don't know. One of the persons credited as a songwriter is a fellow by the name of Jan Davis. If it is the Jan Davis I am thinking about than we are talking about the 60s guitar wizz who was also very much associated with the Sixties So Cal surf scene. That Jan Davis was not only B Bumble of the Kim Fowley vehicle, B Bumble & the Stingers, but he also is the guy who yells at the beginning of Dick Dale's "Miserlou". BUT Davis was known for his guitar work, not writing pop songs and ballads. So is this the same Jan Davis? Who was the producer? Impact Productions. Google "Associated Artists" and see how many listing you get. Thousands. I am not even sure of the date this was released and am going by 1966 because it sounds like '66 and the matrix number of 1166. What about the dead wax? Any pressing plant marks? Nope. Nothing there either. Now if this was a mediocre tune, I wouldn't care. If it was a total mystery like the Cajun Kings below, I'd be able to live with it. But this is a great single and the label is teasing me with partial information!
I laying one of the two songs on you. The other song, Don't Walk Away, is a good early 60s ballad in the style of Dion or Del Shannon but not mind blowing. You get the cool cooker in Now That You're Down, a song that bridges the pop rock vocal style of the early 60s with the garage pop of the mid 60s. Most of the time when this happens it sounds like bubblegum but it doesn't here. Dig this one!
Share My Love
The Cajun Kings Share My Love b/w She Cried 45 (Valon, 196?)
Here is an obscure one! Damn if I know anything about the band or the label other than Valon also put out a couple albums by the guy who produced this thing, Keith Williams. Looking at the Williams titles, safe to say that the guy wasn't a popster but rather headed up a jazz quintet and a big band. I don't know if he owned the label or was just a producer/musician. I also have no idea if he produced anything else.
In my searching for info on the Cajun Kings, I've found nothing other than listings for "The Cajun Kings of Comedy." I very much doubt that the Kings later turned into a comedy troop. I am guessing by their name that they are from Louisiana, home of their label as wel. I don't know if this was their only release, though I am guessing it is.
So what is this mystery record? Pretty damn tasty Sixties garage pop. No frills here. No novelties. No gimmicks. No wacked out story that we at Crud wallow in. Nope. The Cajun Kings are about straight ahead pop with a garage edge. Please enjoy.
The Shoestring Candy Andy b/w Shoop-De-Hoop-Twine 45 (20th Century Fox, 1968)
If Candy Andy isn't the first bubblegum song about a child molester, it has to be the only bubblegum song with Frankie Valli style vocals that is about a Chester. That weird, sick oddity instantly makes this a Crud favorite. Now add a really strong Tommy James style production to this single and you have a good'un. Too bad modern rock bands, especially of the punk persuasion, don't pick up on the sound of the bass & guitar at the song's head. The flip, Shoop-De-Hoop-Twine, is as much of a throw away as any bubblegum b-side is. However it has the distinction of being a hodge podge of popular rock & roll instrumental styles, as the song title suggests. While certainly a C+, the quirkiness makes it worth a listen or two.
The producer, arranger and songwriter for The Shoestring was a New York record producer named Tommy Falcone. Chances are that Falcone was The Shoestring, the name probably a joke about how little money he had to make the record. Earlier he made a single under Tommy Falcone & the Centuries called Like Weird, which has become a college radio dementoid rock & roll favorite.
One curious discovery of Falcone's is Edward "Jukebox" Pasterzyck, who at age 17, had a hit record produced by Falcone, under the name The Reminiscents. Later Pasterzyck, a pacifist, became a cop in Irvington, New Jersey, using non-violence for conflict resolution. In 1982, he recorded a couple rap 12"s under the name of The Cracker Rapper. These were not produced by Falcone.
What happened to Falcone? I found this posting on a web board," My friend Tommy Falcone went to his grave at age 40 trying to make it in the music business. His last job was stacking records at a record store. He never made it."
But he did make some swell records.